Split to Dubrovnik Part Two

Continued from November 20, 2006 …After endless stretches of the clear blue waters, I started to think, yes this is a nice sea, but wouldn’t it be nice to see something else? As if to answer my question, we started to go a bit more inland, which took us from the glistening waters; to be shuttled along some of the most amazing farmlands I have even seen in my life just south of Ploče. There are these neat little rows of different crops growing next to each other at whatever angle someone felt would be good that day. It’s a far cry from the large quilt-like patches of homogenous crops that we see growing across the US. It’s a funny thing to think that this spot where the Neretva River forms a wetland delta used to be a massive source of malaria for the inhabitants, but is now one of the most fertile (and beautiful) areas in the whole country.
Pulling out of the Neretva delta, we ran parallel to the Peljesac Penninsula, eventually coming to the Bosnia Herzegovina border. As odd as it seems, there is this very small strip of the country that interjects into Croatia to grab a little bit of the coast, a bit to the north of Ston. Historically, I’ve been told by Croatian friends that this piece of land was given to the Ottoman Empire by the old city-state of Ragusa (which Dubrovnik was the capital of) in order to provide a buffer between them and the encroaching Venetians. How much truth there is to this, I’ve never been able to find out, although it sounds like the sensible kind of thing that the Ragusans would do. They were masters at maintaining independence for centuries despite being directly between the Ottomans and Venetians.
The border was nothing to worry about, since they checked our passports, were slightly bemused in seeing Americans, and let us on through to the 10-15 kilometers that the road runs through. We actually stopped in this little strip of land, and it was most certainly not in an official capacity. Apparently, the drivers used to pick up large piles of goods while in Bosnia Herzegovina because they got them at nearly 25% less than in Croatia due to the fact that there were no, or at the very least, were less taxes there. This explains why there were few markets in Neum, which was an otherwise barren area. We were delayed a good half hour by the drivers doing their shopping and going to multiple markets to get the best prices. It was annoying, but we had little choice. I’m sure that the temerity of the drivers was more than likely due to the fact that there were few of us on the bus at that point and they felt they could probably do as they pleased with little consequence. It turns out that in the years since my ride, the Croatian government has been cracking down on this by having police ride the buses at random. With a couple of cases of beer on board, the shopping was done and we passed back into Croatia, which was even less of an issue than passing in to BH…
Continued on November 22, 2006
Split to Dubrovnik Part Two